So . . . it’s 2:19 am on Feb. 14 and I got home about an hour ago from our opening night of A New Brain. It’s been a bizarre couple of days. Allow me to bring you up to speed. We had our dress rehearsal on Wednesday night. It was . . . um . . . rocky. There were costume issues and sound issues and a lot of brain farts (no pun intended) – most of which were pretty funny.
Then we had a great rehearsal on Thursday afternoon,where we cleared up a lot of things. That night was our one and only preview. Eek!! (Eek that there’s only one, not cause it was bad) It was really wild to have the show in front of people for the first time. Just to see what confuses them, amuses them, excites them. It’s such a strange show, y’all. It takes the viewers on such an odd ride. It’s non-linear yet does go in it’s own straight line. It’s funny but not knee-slappy but it is outrageous at points. It’s not a drama but there moments that I find heart-aching. Now, we also ended up having some sound issues. People think doing a show accoustically (without microphones) is so much easier but there is still a problem balancing the band and vocals. We don’t want to be overwhelmed by the band but we want to feel enveloped and buoyed by them. And we want the audience to feel that the band is present but not that they can’t hear us. And the show is so involved for such a short show that there are still transitions that we, the cast, don’t quite have in our bodies yet. But the audience seemed to really enjoy it, despite several kinks. They were really warm and enthusiastic. You could really feel them listening which is always interesting. And very different from a bored audience. They fidget and rustle things.
Anyway, so opening day, we had our last rehearsal in the afternoon. It was our last chance to fine tune bits, clarify choreography, specify entrances, etc. As I believe I said in an earlier blog (I think), we didn’t have as much time as we would have liked so we had a lot to do in not that long a time. But the whole cast worked their asses off for the whole rehearsal period and I’m so proud of everyone and the show we created. No matter what the critics may say. This is an amazing group of people and a fascinating, theatrical piece and I applaud Mitchell Marcus for doing these interesting and off-the-beaten-path pieces that other companies seem to be too afraid to do – for whatever reason.
So the actual opening went well. I won’t lie, the cast was nervous. We all felt we could have done with about 3 more previews but in all honesty, you always want more previews. But the response through the show was pretty great. People really seemed to be listening and reacting and getting things; they seemed to be on the ride. Now, personally, I didn’t have the greatest show. I had a heavy dose of the evil voices in my head that tell me horrible things – “you can’t act”, “that choice was terrible”, “why did you say that line like that?”, “I think this shirt smells bad”, “that move was cheesy”, “this isn’t the best sing for you”. It’s been awhile since I’ve been inundated with those voices but there I was. I did my best to tell them to shut up and just be in my scenes but it was tough tonight. I really just wanted to be there for the incredible Steven Gallagher who has to climb Mount Olympus every show – I wanted to be there to support him and ground him if/when he was feeling like it was all a bit too much. I’m hoping that kept me grounded enough to get me through. But it was weird, y’all. You’d think after 25 years of performing (yes, 25 years), I would have gotten past those off moments. I think all actors are plagued by those voices from time to time. But over time, you hopefully gain skills that get you through. Hmmmm don’t know. All I know is that now I’m, at least, able to show up and try again and that counts for something . . . doesn’t it?
Anyway, at the end of the show . . . . . . . okay, I need to be careful here. hahahaha The last time I talked about an audience jumping to their feet, I almost started a blog bitch-slap-a-thon between Kelly Nestruck, reviewer for the Globe and Mail (who I must say, I enjoy a great deal – Hi, Kelly, if you still read my blog) and Morris Panych, playwright and director (who I also enjoy a lot). But I’ll say this and hopefully not misrepresent it – several members of the audience rose immediately and a good many were not far behind; within a few moments, most of the house was on it’s feet. There may have been some people still sitting but I couldn’t see them. We did two curtain calls and in all fairnes and with no exaggeration, they continued clapping for so long we could have done one more but decided to not milk it. There was a pretty amazing feeling coming from the crowd and from the faces in the crowd. I was quite touched. I’m not sure what it is about Finn’s pieces that seem to really get to people but there it is.
As always, one can’t know what critics have to say or where they are emotionally when they see a show but we can’t really let that rule our world. All we can do is try to make a connection with a piece; to reach out and find some truth for that whole room full of people to connect to. And even though I wasn’t pleased with my own performance, I was really proud to be in a production that was, at least, striving to be something that has something to say. That can be hard to find sometimes.
Okay that last bit sounds all high-falutin’. I think I’m tired. It’s now 3:18. It’s time to go to sleep.
Oh, HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY, everyone.